Friday, October 26, 2018


Hi There ! 

So, here we go !

Halloween happens next week,

and it happens Big Time for sure.

It rivals our other Fall High Holy Day - Thanksgiving. 

Last year the average per person amount spent on 

candy, costumes, gore, ghosts, skeletons, and such 

"freight for fun" was $86.13. 

Cumulatively that comes out to 9.1 billion -

a mass of money for the macabre. 

So, get the kids (of all ages!) their costumes.

Keep Hershey and M & M Mars stock on a sugar high.

Put the porch light on and it's Show Time !!

A not so High Fall Holy Day gets pretty much lost 

in the shuffle and shadow of this scary show.

It's the day after Halloween/All Saints Day.

It  is so "after" that few notice and fewer bother.

                November second is 

                       All Souls Day

the remembrance/commemoration of

the faithful and not so faithful departed.

In fact, as a young priest, to spring 

the "not so faithful" from Purgatory to Paradise,

 on All Souls Day I used to don black vestments

and celebrate three Masses in a row for them,

as was the custom at the time.

Three portions of sacramental wine before breakfast!!

What were we (not ) thinking?

Right there on the altar were rubber banded packets of 

black and white envelopes listing the names of departed family and friends -

All Souls holy enough not to go to hell,

but still too sinful to pass through those pearly pure gates 

and be home safe with All Saints.

As a consequence, they were doing time (and torture)

there in Purgatory suffering off those sins and stains.

So we tried to rustle up some merit and indulgences

to cover for their transgressions with our Masses,

and all sorts of devotions with high yield 

rewards programs attached to them.

The thinking (???) behind all this goes all the way back 

to Gregory I and Bede ( 672/673 - 735) followed by

all sorts of subsequent  Christian authors.

They taught the dead need to undergo a "purgation"

of suffering for their sins so as to be pure enough to enter heaven.

That is Purgatory.

Prayers, penances, and later the indulgences of others

on earth would shorten their suffering in Purgatory,

help make up for their sins, pay off that sin dept.

In the 11th. century All Souls Day became  liturgically observed

at the Abbey of Cluny in France.

The doctrine behind it was defined

by the Councils of Lyons ( 1274), 

Ferrara-Florence (1438-45), and Trent ( 1545-1563 ).

All this is a bit about the background, understandings

and experiences of my earlier days vis-a-vis

                        All Souls.

Most of the world's religions have their own take and tactic 

on dealing with death and the transition to the after life. 

There is  a spacious  span of understandings, 

expressions and experiences.

Long ago I put away the black vestments 

and indulgence "merit-a-thons."

I would like to share a story that speaks 

my sense and spirit now in old age. 

Please hear this with way more than doctrinal ears. 

It draws from both Eastern and Western mystical traditions

as it tells of our true essence and transition.

It comes to us from Anthony de Mello,SJ (1931-1987),

a masterful story teacher from India. 

It goes like this.

A salt doll spent years and miles on its life journey

until it finally came to the sea.

The salt doll was fascinated by this strange moving mass, 

quite unlike anything it had ever seen.

"Who are you?" said the doll to the sea.

The sea smiled replying, "Come in and see."

So the salt doll waded in.

The farther it walked into the sea the more it dissolved into the sea.

The doll exclaimed in wonder,

                                   "Now I know what I am."

A wonderful, freeing sense for All Souls and our eventual transition 

as one day we exclaim,

                                 "Now I know what I am,"

                                     and dissolve into the

                                           SEA OF ALL.

Being very much an Old Salt myself, I can't wait  for the

                                      SEA CHANGE.


                  With affectionate love, holding All Souls

                                on our way to the Sea in

                                   God's Dear Love

                                       John Frank


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